Australia unveils planned national digital ID for work credentials
Australian job seekers could soon be able to store and share verified job skills and qualifications with employers through a newly announced National Digital Skills Passport. This passport would function as a digital ID for job qualifications. It is yet another step in Australia’s push to digitally transform the nation and provide better data access and security for its citizens and industries.
Jim Chalmers, treasurer; Jason Clare, minister for education; and Brendan O’Connor MP, minister for skills and training, confirmed the government’s plans to spend $9.1 million Australian (roughly US$5.8 million) to support a business case for creating the digital skills passport in consultation with industry, unions, tertiary institutions, and students on its scope and function. This initiative forms part of the government’s efforts to promote lifelong learning, which is a key reform direction outlined in an Employment White Paper.
A centralized repository of education and certification verifications can benefit both businesses and applicants. An individual’s education and training qualifications, including high school, university, and vocational education and training, can be stored in a skills passport, which acts as a centralized platform. This passport information can be easily shared with employers, providing a more streamlined location to store and access applicant data. It also gives employers greater assurance that the skills and qualifications are accurate, which can lead to significant cost and time efficiencies.
Clare addressed the need for this program, stating, “With more and more jobs requiring a post-school qualification, it is increasingly necessary for people to upskill and reskill throughout their careers. A national skills passport could make it easier for employees to demonstrate the skills they have and for employers to have confidence that employees have the skills they need.”
O’Connor adds, “While our focus is on the skills shortages our economy is facing right now, we are also planning for the skills that will be needed in critical areas of emerging demand. Ensuring students’ skills are recognized so they can upskill, reskill, and find work as the economy changes is crucial.”
Chalmers, emphasizing the need to build a more agile and adaptable labor force, remarks, “We want to make it easier for more workers in more industries to adapt and adopt new technology and to grab the opportunities on offer in the defining decade ahead of us.”
The university sector and employer groups support the concept of a digital ID for work credentials.
According to the Universities Accord Report, “A national skills passport could build on the National Credentials Platform (NCP), which aims to be a secure digital platform for students and graduates to access, compile, display, and share their higher education qualifications, micro-credentials, and general capabilities.”
The Business Council of Australia’s chief executive, Bran Black, endorses the passport idea, stating, “The Business Council has long advocated for a skills passport and a national framework for a digital, portable skills sharing system, and today’s announcement is a game changer. This will enable Australians to store their qualifications easily, make applying for a job simpler and more streamlined, and help reduce the barriers to lifelong learning. It will make the system more flexible for learners and make it easier for them to switch degrees or institutions while receiving recognition for what they have already achieved. For employers, it will provide a nationally consistent format to view and verify the skills and competencies of a potential employee.”
Improving data security by keeping records in the hands of individuals is also a major pillar of the Australian government’s national digital ID plan, which is in the midst of a public awareness push.